24 October 2018
The official portrait of Australia’s first female Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard AC, will be unveiled at Parliament House, Canberra, today.
Created by award-winning artist Vincent Fantauzzo, on Ms Gillard’s recommendation, the portrait was commissioned by the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) for Parliament’s Historic Memorials Collection.
Painted in a realist style, the portrait depicts the former Prime Minister in a contemplative mood. It is Mr Fantauzzo’s first commission for the Collection.
The Victorian artist, who was born in England in 1977, holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and a Masters of Fine Arts from RMIT University, Melbourne. He is now an Adjunct Professor at RMIT. In 2008, his portrait of actor Heath Ledger won the Archibald’s People’s Choice award.
A six-time Archibald Prize finalist, Mr Fantauzzo won the People’s Choice award again in 2009, 2013 and 2014 as well as the 2011 Packing Room Prize. He also won the Doug Moran Portrait Prize in 2011 with a painting of filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. In his most recent exhibition in 2016, Mr Fantauzzo collaborated with senior Indigenous artists from across central Australia to create portraits incorporating aspects of each artist’s country and culture.
Ms Gillard met the artist in 2016 before sitting for the portrait in Mr Fantauzzo’s Melbourne studio the following year. It was presented to Ms Gillard in March 2018 and approved by the National Portrait Gallery of Australia and by members of the Historic Memorials Committee in May this year.
The Historic Memorials Collection is Australia’s longest-running art commissioning program. Founded by Prime Minister Andrew Fisher in 1911, the collection has commissioned portraits of the Head of State, Governors-General, Prime Ministers, Speakers and Presidents for more than 105 years.
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